Between organisational philosophies that claim to have been conceived around employee wellness and horizontal cultures that aim to get 'work-life' balance right, healthy work cultures should very well be something every organisation achieves.
Yet the numbers have a different tale to narrate. Surveys that map overwork most often reveal how employees feel constantly stressed.
Take for example the American survey of 1000 odd adults, where 28% revealed that they often or very often felt overworked. Known to have been a culture that actively overworks, one-fifth of the Japanese workforce faces the risk of death from overwork. And about 23% of respondents of a UK-based study felt that their employers did not take their well being too seriously.
Clearly, we have an underlying issue that requires being fixed from within. While giving employees paid time off and perks that help them take care of their families' well being is definitely laudable, being able to account for their time while at work on terms that add to a project’s progress is equally important.
Let's then evaluate resource management’s pragmatic approach to workforce woes.
Skill-based allocation is a lot more than mere delegation
Given the breakneck speed with which we operate, allocations that factor in the fact that employees are each skilled in their own special ways is often forgotten and there is little managers can do about it unless they have a detailed skill inventory.
However, on employees' part, in addition to the financials of a job, they also look forward to the sense of satisfaction and growth trajectory that it brings.
These parameters steadily contribute to the quality of work they put in and ultimately contributes to their decision of wanting to stay at a job. A layered skill inventory that can be easily filtered through to find the right skill matches and a keen consideration to the secondary skill sets of employees helps give them this assurance. And such a process-driven approach to allocation depends on skill inventories that are updated and accessible.
Overwork is not optimal
Overwork has unfortunately been accepted as a measure of hard work and success in a lot of work cultures. Besides circumstantial factors, two scenarios have influenced this trend:
- A. The inability to scientifically measure resource utilisation.
- B. The inability to forecast requirements well in advance.
Under the first scenario, given the fact that resources make for an organisation's most significant cost, their time is equated to utilisation and thus, the more the better. While in the second scenario, organisations are simply caught off-guard and find themselves overloading their resources in the nick of the moment.
However, using standard measures like FTE (Full-time equivalent) to map resources from the very beginning of the project, helps you equate project success to resource utilisation and respect their time commitments.
Coupled with skill-based utilisation, they stand a higher chance of enjoying their jobs and feeling challenged enough as opposed to feeling overwhelmed or obsolete. In addition, when you forecast your requirements well in advance and keep teams updated about their upcoming tasks, you avoid last minute rush and ensure higher quality in delivery.
Dedicated training and skill enhancement go a long way
Cutting-corners is not something organisations are proud of. But given the complexity of business financials, such measures are unavoidable from time to time. However, periodic training is not worth compromising with.
Skill enhancement, albeit being an additional cost, adds priceless value to both workforce retention as well as the quality of your deliverables. In addition, it gives employees the added assurance that their growth is of interest to their employers. Most importantly though, with a such cross-functional team, you have employees with diversified skill sets who know your brand and care for it. This treasure could be harnessed to expand your business, many times over.
Your workforce strategy must last the test of time
You cannot keep all your employees happy at all times. And that is hardly the objective too. What matter though are the core values that you place at the centre of your workforce’s inception. Respect the fact that they are people with aspirations and personalities through actions rather than words.
Resource capacity planning, though a fairly process-driven practice, helps you achieve this balance although it is slightly far from the ‘work culture’ realm of things.It lets you build a workforce that meets your demand with passion and precision. Besides, it helps you hold on to them despite vagaries of business cycles. And in the same way, it gives them enough incentive to stay by your side over the years. A workforce is more than just the means to your end. It is an investment you make for the long-term.
Resources, at the end of the day, are truly your most valuable assets. Tell us more about your strategies to optimise your workforce.
Aakash Gupta is the resource management subject-matter expert at Saviom Software. Besides publishing extensive resources on best management practices, Aakash also heads the marketing division of Saviom’s flagship resource management software.